Suitcases and cocaine seized at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport.
CAROLINA, PUERTO RICO – Javier F. Peña, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Caribbean Division, announced today that KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ were arrested at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport as they attempted to travel to New York on American Airlines flight 1416 in connection to the seizure of approximately 32 kilograms of cocaine.
The criminal complaint sworn by a DEA Task Force Officer alleges that, based on his investigation, on May 24, 2011, KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ went to the American Airlines counter to check-in for their flight and check their luggage. They had two pieces of luggage each.
After checking four pieces of luggage at the American Airlines counter, the luggage was placed into a security machine for scanning. The machine alerted to one of the four pieces of luggage belonging to KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ.
After the alert, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Officers proceeded to open the luggage and found that the luggage contained eight suspicious block shaped packages concealed inside the pants legs of two pairs of sweat pants, further concealed inside rubber tubing.
TSA Officers called the Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) Drug Unit, located at the Airport Precinct, who requested the assistance of Puerto Rico Port Authority (PRPA) K-9 Unit to inspect the luggage. Upon inspection by PRPA K-9 trained in detecting narcotics; the PRPA-K9 alerted to the presence of narcotics on aforementioned luggage.
At that time, PRPD checked the flight manifest and noticed that KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA was traveling with another female, MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ, and they checked two suitcases each. PRPD made contact with KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ as they boarded their flight and were asked if they would be willing to talk with PRPD officers, and they agreed.
Concurrently, other PRPD officers checked the luggage compartment of the airplane to locate the other three suitcases. Once the suitcases were located, a PRPA K-9 alerted to the presence of a controlled substance inside.
The PRPD detained KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ, who were taken to the PRPD Drug Unit, Airport Precinct, where they were advised of their constitutional rights. KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ signed the advisement and consent form. However, both KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ evoked their Miranda Rights and refused to talk to law enforcement officers.
KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA identified two of the seized pieces of luggage as belonging to her and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ identified two of the seized pieces of luggage as belonging to her.
Upon inspection by law enforcement officers, 32 packages were found in the luggage, eight in each suitcase. Puerto Rico Police Department Officer(s) field tested one package from one suitcase for each suspect and both yielded positive for cocaine. The approximate amount of cocaine seized was 32 kilograms.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Marcos E. Lopez, of the District of Puerto Rico, found that there was probable cause to believe that KORIS YANNIRA GARCIA and MILAGRO ORTIZ-PEREZ, aiding and abetting each other, did knowingly and intentionally possessed with the intent to distribute the cocaine in violation of Title 21, United States Code Section 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(ii) and Title 2, United States Code Section 2. U.S. Magistrate Judge Lopez ordered that the defendants be detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals pending a detention hearing scheduled for May 31, 2011.
The criminal complaint was authorized by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marshal D. Morgan, of the District of Puerto Rico. The defendants will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Puerto Rico. If convicted, the defendants could face not less than 10 years, and not more than life in prison. Indictments and criminal complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty. The investigation continues.